The Illinois House committee are considering a new bill that require internet businesses to notify their customers the details of the personal information they collect, disclose and sell. The “Right to Know Act”, sponsored by State Senator Michael E. Hastings, would help Illinois customers protect their data. Two other Internet Privacy measures have also been endorsed in the state.

Safeguarding 'personal information'

Under The Right to Know Bill, personal information refers to identity information, addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays and ages, physical characteristics, race, ethnicity, religious affiliations, and professional and educational information.

If enacted, commercial websites must disclose the types of third parties that may have access to customer data and provide a description to the customer’s rights under the Right to Know. The New York Times has called the bill “a state-level stand against federal infringement” of privacy.

According to Democratic senator Hastings, people think that they have a right to privacy, “It’s an inherent, expected right. That’s why they think.” So when they sign up and enters their information into a website, Hastings explained, they expect their information to stay there, which of course is not what is happening with internet companies. In addition to disclosures, customers are allowed a right of action to pursue relief from the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

Similar requirements are now the mandatory practices in the European Union and California, where businesses do not seem hindered by these rules. More than 1,000 people and organizations have sent in their notice of support of the bill, with only 32 showing opposition. Opponents of the bill are saying that having such measures would open up companies to lawsuits for not implementing privacy policies.

In other words, the bill would put lawyers’ interests ahead of customers’.

The right to know and seek remedy

Meanwhile, Congress is rolling back the regulations put in place by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration. The proposed bill is currently on its way to the Illinois Senate floor for a vote, and if passed, it will continue to the Illinois House panel.

If the bill is passed into a law, there is a possibility that the new regulation would become nationwide standard, as tech companies would find it too cumbersome and unnecessary to screen state-specific user data. Another endorsed bill regulates instances when a consumer’s location can be tracked via an app, and the other, the third bill, limits the use of microphones in devices that connect to the internet.